By Lyman Hafen, Executive Director

A hundred years ago, two men who played a key role in the process of Zion Canyon’s evolution from a national monument to a national park, were busy formulating policy to administer our national parks. At that time, early in the year of 1916, no federal entity existed for the express purpose of administering the growing number of national parks and monuments in America. The two men were working in anticipation of the creation of such an entity. On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service came into being, and one of those men, Stephen Mather, became its first director. The other, Horace M. Albright, succeeded Mather as director after his death.

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Zion Canyon had first been set aside as Mukuntuweap National Monument by proclamation of President Taft in 1909. After creation of the National Park Service in 1916, then Assistant NPS Director Albright, visited Mukuntuweap several times as he worked to improve and enlarge the monument, with an eye one bringing it to national park status. Thanks to Albright’s tireless efforts, Zion Canyon officially became a national park in 1919. Stephen Mather, as first director of the National Park Service, visited Zion later that year. He became an enthusiastic champion of the canyon and visited the area several more times. A bronze tablet honoring him is mounted near the entrance to the Zion Human History Museum.

This year Zion National Park plans to celebrate the NPS Centennial in many ways. Several events and activities are already planned. Others are still in the planning stages.

The year of commemoration kicks off in Salt Lake City with a statewide event at the Clark Planetarium. Invited representatives from all Utah NPS sites will participate in the premiere of the National Parks Adventure film to be shown in the Planetarium’s IMAX theater on February 11. Prior to and after the premiere, park rangers will conduct outreach to the schools in the Wasatch Front, introducing 500 fourth graders to the mission of the NPS, Find Your Park, and Every Kid in a Park programs.


Here in Zion, one of the signature events of the Centennial year will be the “Centennial Edition” of the Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational, November 7-13. This year’s edition of the popular event will feature not only paintings of Zion by the 24 invited artists, but also selections of their work depicting other U.S. National Parks.

The museum and visitor center in Zion will host special exhibits relating to the Centennial. The Zion Human History Museum will showcase an exhibit of stories of people who have “Found Their Park,” in Zion from the past and present, then look to the future and the next 100 years of management of National Parks. A “Post Cards Home” visitor center exhibit will encourage visitors to write or draw about their experience in the park and what the Centennial of the NPS means to them. The postcards will be on display in the visitor center and then mailed home to the visitor – creating an extended experience with the park.

CrawfordHomestead_WilliamLouisCrawford_1915-19_Grayscale_72dpi_ZNHA 001 001Park staff will be fully engaged in community events throughout 2016, including the STEM Festival in Cedar City, the Amazing Earth Festival in Kanab, the Great Outdoors Event in St. George, and the Earth Day Celebration in Springdale, as well as local fairs and other events.

The park will also have a strong presence on social media to engage the public through the year, and will host a series of three #zioninstameet events to engage local community and millennials visiting the park. The events will focus on exploring the natural and cultural resources of the park and using Instagram to share the experience. They will be held on March 19, June 11 (National Get Outdoors Day), and August 25 (National Park Service Founders Day.)

The park’s signature Centennial project is restoration of the Middle Emerald Pools Trail. The project is currently one of the National Park Foundation’s top 50 Centennial Fundraising Projects, and the Zion National Park Foundation is committed to matching the funds they raise. Construction of the Emerald Pools Trails: Lower, Middle and Upper, began in 1932 by the NPS and were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The Middle Emerald Pools Trail was closed after being devastated by a landslide caused by severe flooding. It is one of the most popular trails in the park, and with fundraising support from friends of Zion like you, we plan to open it once again to the public.

P1020900_72d pi_600x 450A number of youth programs and projects will have a Centennial theme this year, including: the local “Every Kid in a Park” fourth grade programming, the successful “Concrete to Canyons” initiative that brings 100 underserved Las Vegas, Nevada, fifth graders and their families to the park, the “Building Stewardship Careers Through Tribal Cultural Traditions” program, the “Ticket to Ride” busing program, “Distance Learning Outreach,” Southern Utah’s Outdoor Education Lecture Series, and Dixie State University’s “Science in Zion” program.

And, of course, Zion Canyon Field Institute’s “Fern and J.L. Crawford Lecture Series” will feature it’s own “Centennial” lineup of great presenters this year. You’ll find more detail on this year’s series in this newsletter.

RangerAdam_2016Centennial_1.99m_DSC_7677The combined efforts of more than 25 parks and organizations in the Grand Circle area of Utah, Arizona and Nevada, will celebrate the NPS Centennial in a new way through something called “PARKS 100.” This consortium has created a community, locally and online, to help visitors explore more of the area and find all types of parks, as well as local Centennial events, suggested itineraries, visitor centers, and hidden gems. It’s designed to encourage visitors to not only visit our popular National Parks, but to venture out of the well-traveled zone and “Explore Five More,” and “Your Park After Dark.” For more on this initiative, visit www.parks100.com.

Behind the Scenes Efforts Underway For “Centennial Edition” of Plein Air Art

Schedule of Plein Air Events | 2016 Invited Artists | Featured Artist: John Cogan

Behind the scenes planning and preparation are underway for the 8th Annual Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational to be held November 7-13, 2016. Currently the artist selection process is at full steam as 24 of the finest landscape artists will be chosen, by committee, for this year’s event which will celebrate art “Centennial style” in Zion Canyon.

DSC_7235_600x400_72dpi During the peak colors of fall in southwestern Utah, and in the midst of the Centennial year of the National Park Service, the Zion National Park Foundation will host the event once again this year under the banner of “Centennial Edition.” Weeklong activities will celebrate the role art has played in the creation and history of the National Park Service by hosting two dozen great artists for a week of painting and teaching in the park. In commemoration of the NPS Centennial, the invited artists will not only paint, on-site, the amazing scenes of Zion, but will also bring studio paintings of work they have done in other national parks.


DSC_8233_600x374_72 dpiVisitors will get to watch the artists paint at various locations in the park, attend one-hour painting demonstrations given by each of the artists during the week, hear evening lectures at the Zion Lodge, and attend a paint-out, auction and art sale held at the end of the week. More than 150 paintings will go on sale at the Zion Human History Museum on Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13. Event proceeds benefit Zion National Park. If you can visit the park only once this year, this is the ideal time to come.

Call For Entries – 2016 Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational


Zion National Park is seeking applications for the 2016 Zion Plein Air Art Invitational – Centennial Edition.

Zion National Park and the Zion National Park Foundation are pleased to have hosted some of the country’s finest plein air artists the past seven years. The 8th Annual Zion National Park Plein Air Art Invitational will be held from Monday, November 7 to Sunday, November 13, 2016.  Two studio pieces from each artist will be on display and available for purchase in the Zion Human History Museum from Wednesday, September 14 to Saturday, November 26, 2016.




Pieces painted during the week will be available at the Public Wet Paint sale on Saturday and Sunday, November 12-13. A paint-out and silent auction on Saturday will provide other opportunities to purchase paintings.


For those who are interested in applying, the online application is now available. All application materials must be submitted online at: https://znha.wufoo.com/forms/rwe8oc11vf6en9/ by Monday, February 8, 2016 by midnight.  For more information, please call 435-772-3264 or email info@zionpark.org





The funds raised through the sale of art will be used by the Zion National Park Foundation to help enhance art education in the park and support ongoing projects such as our Youth Education Initiative which places park rangers in elementary classrooms, and supports visits to the park for children who might otherwise never get here.


DSC_0002_RolandLee_piece_cropped_72dpi The event raises about $41,000 annually. In 2013, Zion National Park Foundation helped the park match two grants from the National Park Foundation which enabled 54 urban students from Las Vegas to have their first camping experience at Zion National Park, and provided buses for 1,600 local 6th and 7th grade students to participate in a curriculum-based field trip to the park. Additionally, the Zion National Park Foundation helped support the park’s junior ranger program, other youth outreach projects, and the park’s Artist-in-Residence Program.



Photos – top to bottom: John Lintott paints in the park; John Cogan at Saturday Paint-out; Roland and Nellie Lee at Friday Gala Event; Michelle Condrat does her demonstration; Julia Seelos paints on location in the park; Roland Lee paints at the Saturday Paint-out. Photos by Daren Reehl and Karolee Dennett.



Created by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Program Celebrated the National Park Service Centennial

SPRINGDALE, UTAH July 6, 2016 — The Zion National Park Foundation today announced it will receive a $201,000 grant provided by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Zion National Park qualified for the grant as one of the top nine most voted for parks in the Partners in Preservation: National Parks campaign.

Zion National Park Foundation will apply the grant to help preserve and maintain the historic Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Switchbacks and the iconic 1.1-mile tunnel in the park, and will receive the grant by September 2016. Work on the project will be underway soon.

According to Lyman Hafen, Executive Director of the Zion National Park Foundation, the initiative to vie for this grant proved that Zion National Park is a national treasure in the hearts of a large number of the 190,000 people who participated in the voting. “It is very heartening to see how our proposal stood up with those of many of the great national parks across the country,” Hafen said. “This effort allowed us to connect with thousands of friends of Zion National Park, and shows how much people care about its future.”

A decade after its inception, Partners in Preservation, a community-based initiative created to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places, honored the National Park Service Centennial by directing its efforts to historic sites within national park units in need of preservation support. Twenty different park sites with unique histories, reflective of the diverse communities and experiences that comprise our nation’s cultural fabric, participated in the campaign. The nine winning sites accumulated the most votes throughout the campaign, which was hosted by media partner National Geographic, from May 25 through July 5.

“We are thrilled with the response and support for Partners in Preservation: National Parks and are proud to be awarding $2 million in grants to extraordinary sites that tell the story of our national park system and reflect the rich cultural resources within it,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “The campaign received more than 1.1 million votes. We thank everyone who voted and applaud all participants of the campaign, as each helped further the public dialogue about the National Park Service’s preservation needs.”

“Partners in Preservation: National Parks has shone new light on the importance of rehabilitating historic resources in national parks and provided much needed funding to make them more accessible to visitors for years to come,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, President and CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation. “And through their participation in the campaign, more than 190,000 Americans have reaffirmed that these places matter – to our history, our nation, and our communities.”

“The Partners in Preservation program is an excellent example of the many ways private organizations have always been essential to the success and longevity of the National Park System,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “These grants will enable our parks to restore and preserve priceless historical features that make a visit to a national park so unique.”